The Department of Justice has 27 open investigations into "leaks," Attorney General Jeff Sessions told lawmakers today in Congressional testimony.
Sessions was answering a question about how his department investigates leaks to the media, specifically when it came to the names of Americans who had been "unmasked." When the names of Americans are swept up in U.S. National Security Agency surveillance operations, they are by policy redacted from intelligence reports, but can be "unmasked," or revealed, at the request of NSA officials or some other top U.S. government officials if the identity of the American is believed to inform the context of the communications.
Republicans have accused Obama administration officials of improperly unmasking individuals linked to President Donald Trump's campaign, like former White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, and leaking that information to the media for political purposes.
Later in the hearing, Sessions added that of the 27 leak investigation, some of them began before Trump took office and some after. With respect to potential prosecution of members of the press, Sessions said his department would respect the role of the press, but he believed members of the media were under the mistaken impression they had absolute rights to do some things they shouldn't. Sessions did not immediately clarify and a follow-up question on that subject has not been asked as of this report.
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